The Fleeting Title that is “Social Media Expert”

by Marcus Sheridan

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but online social media and marketing “experts” come and go in this field sometimes quicker than you and I can blink an eye.

One day they’re on top of the blogosphere and considered a “genius.”

The next day their blog is essentially lying dormant—the victim of neglect, no momentum, and a brand that has dissipated just as quickly as it entered the scene.

Since I started blogging on The Sales Lion almost 3 years ago, I’ve seen this process again and again and again.

Frankly, it’s pretty amazing how this industry will chew up and spit out so many talented people.

In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that talent is just one of many factors that will dictate the longevity of one’s ability to be viewed as an expert in this incredibly dynamic and evolving realm.

A Dime a Dozen

Exploding out of the gates with prolific content is nothing “special” these days. In fact, these types of social media/marketing bloggers are a dime a dozen.

The same can be said for networking. Sure, networking is critical in this realm. Personally, I learned this the hard way. But in no way does having Seth Godin or Chris Brogan as your BFF guarantee true longevity in this field, as eventually you’ll have to stand on your own two feet.

When it comes down to it, my observation is that there is one essential element of social media thought leadership that supersedes all others, and I call it “The Playground Effect.”

The Playground Effect

How does a guy like Mitch Joel write an average of 5-6 thought-provoking  articles per week on all things marketing/social/tech over the last 5 years?

How do Joe Pulizzi and all the folks at CMI (Content Marketing Institute) manage to produce post after post after post about all things Content Marketing months on end?

Or how does Gini Dietrich find the ability to crank out PR and marketing content over at Spin Sucks for well over 3 years now without even seeming to take a single breath?

I could go on and on about other talented and prolific leaders in this field but the fact remains they all understand how to leverage The Playground Effect.

And what I mean by this is simple—Mitch Joel has a phenomenal marketing agency with Twist Image. With many employees helping a huge array of clients, Mitch literally has a massive playground by which he’s able to make observation after observation of what’s working, what’s failing, and what’s next in social media.

Joe Pulizzi and the good people at CMI have pushed content marketing to warp speeds in an incredibly short period of time due to their unrelenting work with powerfully diverse clients in what has become a global playground of businesses.

Because she owns a PR agency and has a prolific speaking schedule, Gini Dietrich is able to make observations, study trends, and experiment with unique social media tactics day in and day out.

I’m sure you see my point here.

The Story of River Pools is Not Enough

When I started this blog, the “story” was about River Pools and its incredible rise to success due to inbound and content marketing efforts.

But despite the power of this story and the fact that I’m still able to relate to the strategies we’re executing, The Sales Lion brand would have sputtered many months ago had I not been able to create a new playground—one with new clients, new industries, new strategies, and new stories to tell.

And this is ultimately why the “experts” come and go. In order to stay on top of this industry (or just about any other for that matter), not only do you need to be talented, consistent, and have a strong network—but you also must have the ability to continually experiment, try new strategies, and even fail miserably at times as you move through this playground.

Look at any social media/marketing expert that has managed to last (and grow) 3 or more years online and 99% of the time you’ll find this similar characteristic.

So just as a tree dies the moment it stops growing, the same can be said for any expert in any field.


Oh, and one other thing. Everyone seems to have their own definition for what qualifies someone to be a social media “expert.” In fact, the semantic debate that sometimes ensues with this subject is almost laughable.

My personal opinion is that social media is so vast, so dynamic, and so unrelenting in its growth that none of us are even close to a master of this realm. Sure, we may have significant experience in one platform or another, but by no means does a single person have all of this stuff figured out.

But then again, that’s why they made the playground. ;-)

Your Turn

As you look at the “experts” in the social media realm, what characteristics do you see that allow one to stand the test of time? Who do you feel are some of the timeless experts in this young field? What makes them great and what are the qualities that keep you coming back?

Jump in folks, let your voice be heard.

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